In this issue of the Blood-Letter: a preview of our November guest Steven Saylor, awards, new mysteries, and more!

November 2015

Bloody Thursday, November 19, 2015 Friends of Mystery Welcomes Steven Saylor

Stan Johnson and I met Steven Saylor in the fall of 1992 in the lobby of the downtown Portland Hilton Hotel. We were there to greet our Bloody Thursday guest, in Portland on a book tour for his second novel, Arms of Nemesis. We were delighted by this modest and enthusiastic young author from Texas who has remained a friend, and is now making his third appearance at our Bloody Thursday events.

Our audience that evening was also impressed by his wit and his Texas charm, and by his clear enjoyment of what he was doing. Saylor’s intention, he told us that night, was to write a series of five novels set about seven years apart in the great Roman republican period of Cicero and Caesar, recreating a culture that experienced a burst of energy to become the western world empire, and to do it as a series of detective novels. In fact, it was a murder trial where Cicero defended a murder suspect that provoked Saylor to begin his series. He considered using Cicero as his hero, but decided early on that he didn’t like him and so he created his fictional hero, Gordianus the Finder, who is a master solver of crimes.

Saylor titled his series, Roma Sub Rosa, and explains his concept of the novels: “In ancient myth the Egyptian god Horus came upon Venus engaged in one of many love affairs. Cupid, her son, bribed Horus with a rose to keep quiet; thus the rose became the symbol of confidentiality, and a rose hanging over a council table indicated that all present were sworn to secrecy. Sub Rosa (‘under the rose’) has come to mean ‘that which is done in secret.’ Thus ROMA SUB ROSA: the secret history of Rome, as seen through the eyes of Gordianus.”

saylor_wrathofthefuriesNow, 23 years later, Saylor has published 15 Gordianus mysteries, including two collections of short stories. His most recent books in this series feature the teenage Gordianus traveling the world, exposing secrets and solving murders almost everywhere. His most recent novel is Wrath of the Furies, the third “prequel” to the Roma Sub Rosa series. Here, the 22-year-old travels to Ephesus to prevent a massacre of Romans.

In addition to his mystery series, Saylor has written a two-novel sequence tracing the history of the Roman Empire, Roma and Empire. He has also written a mystery set in 19th century Texas, A Twist at the End, based on a true series of murders in 19th century Austin and featuring O’Henry, and a contemporary novel, Have You Seen Dawn? set in the small Texas town where the author grew up.

Saylor owns a home in Austin and returns regularly but since leaving Texas in 1980, he has primarily lived in Berkeley, California.

We hope you can join us on November 19, at 7:30, for our final meeting at Terwilliger Plaza. All Bloody Thursday events are free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the Terwilliger Plaza parking lots across 6th Avenue from the lower level entrance, and on SW Sheridan Street. Tri-Met bus #8, Jackson Park, stops just in front of the lower entrance.

Jay Margulies

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Bouchercon 2015

The world mystery conference, Bouchercon, was held in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 8 – 11, 2015. The Guests of Honor were Kathy Reichs and Tom Franklin. The local GOH was Louise Shaffer, and Margaret Maron was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The first day began with “Author Speed Dating”, where authors were given three minutes each to describe their books as they went from table to table, two authors at a time. Throughout the day, there were many panels to choose from, and time after each panel to go to the book room and have books signed by the authors who had just completed their panels.

Thursday evening, the Barry and Macavity Awards were presented, with the Anthony Awards (voted on by those attending the conference) being presented on Saturday evening.

Besides the author panels, there were also interviews with the guests of honor spread throughout the conference. Several publishing houses offered free books and author signings, and we were also treated to an event featuring chocolate desserts.

A good time was had by all. Bouchercon 2016 will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana in September, and the following year it will be in Toronto, Canada.

Here are the awards that were presented:

Barry Awards

  • Best Novel: Natchez Burning, by Greg Iles
  • Best First Novel: Invisible City, by Julia Dahl
  • Best Paperback Original: The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens
  • Best Thriller: Those Who Wish Me Dead, by Michael Koryta

Macavity Awards

  • Best Mystery Novel: The Killer Next Door, by Alex Marwood
  • Best First Mystery Novel: Invisible City, by Julia Dahl
  • Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction: Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey, edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan
  • Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award: A Deadly Measure of Brimstone, by Catriona McPherson

Anthony Awards

  • Best Novel: After I’m Gone, by Laura Lippman
  • Best First Novel: The Black Hour, by Lori Rader-Day
  • Best Paperback Original: The Day She Died, by Catriona McPherson
  • Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work: Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey, edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan
  • Best Anthology or Collection: In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger

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Spotted Owl Committee Hard at Work

The members of the Spotted Owl Committee are enjoying their task of reading mystery books written by authors living in the Pacific Northwest. There are both new and returning authors on our list, including Marc Cameron, Robert Dugoni, Warren Easley, J.A. Jance, Mike Lawson, Ingrid Thoft and Julie Weston. The winner will be announced at the March meeting.

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New Books by Popular Authors

Fall has arrived, and with it comes new books by best-selling authors you may want to check out.

Connelly, Michael. The Crossing. Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller are working together again. Haller has Bosch investigate a client’s alibi, and Harry, who is retired from the LAPD, becomes interested in the case.

Galbraith, Robert. Career of Evil. In the third book in her Cormoran Strike series, J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) once again features her private investigator, Cormoran Strike, and his assistant, Robin Ellacott. A package containing a woman’s severed leg is delivered to Robin, and she and Strike must solve the mystery.

George, Elizabeth. A Banquet of Consequences. Another entry in her series featuring Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.

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Henning Mankell, 1948 – 2015

Mr. Mankell was the author of 40 volumes of fiction and 40 plays, but was best known in the United States for his police procedurals featuring Inspector Kurt Wallander.

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Upcoming Programs

  • January: Chelsea Cain
  • March: Dr. Karen Gunson
  • May: It’s a mystery!

Please note: In January we will be moving our meetings to The Old Church. This will give us the opportunity to expand our audience, our membership, and our leadership.

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Member News

Friends of Mystery is happy to publish news and press releases from our members in our Member News section, with the following considerations:

  • The news must be related to mystery or true crime writing, films, and television, as well as non-fiction examinations of the mystery genre.
  • Friends of Mystery will not be able to edit announcements, and will publish them as provided.
  • Friends of Mystery will include one image with each announcement, if provided.
  • Friends of Mystery is not responsible for the content of news announcements, and we reserve the right to not publish any announcements which we feel will reflect poorly on the organization and do not advance the organization’s mission.

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Submissions Needed

Members and readers are encouraged to submit book or film reviews, comments on authors, and recommendations for books to read or questions about mysteries, crime fiction and fact. If you have suggestions of mysteries worth sharing, please contact the editor at: